Computer vs. Hand in Architectural Drawing.

In the architecture world, there are a handful of persistent debates that arise time and time again: the challenges of being a woman in the field of architecture is one of them, for example; the problems of a culture of long hours and hard work is another. But one of the most enduring arguments in architecture – especially in the academic sphere – is the battle between hand drawing and computer aided design. If you are an architect or still an architecture student, which category you are good in? Computer drawings or manual drawings? Or are you good in both? If you are, then you must be doing very great either in your study or in your job.

Me? I can say that I’m much better in hand drawings. Even before I pursue higher education in architecture, I have started sketching buildings on unwanted papers during my years in secondary school (when teachers were not around). There were friends who complimented my drawings and that just gave me further motivation to study architecture. And here, I am, a Part I Architect currently. I like sketching. It’s my hobby. Sometimes, whenever I’m out for a vacation, I would bring a small sketchbook along so that when I have the mood, I can directly draw things on it quickly. Of course, I’m not trying to say that I’m fantastic on my manual drawing skills. It’s just that I’m trained to do that especially since my past 4 years of study in my architectural degree allowed me to focus on excelling in manual drawings.



So, what about my skill in computer drawings? Ahhaa…that’s where the trouble comes. When I finally graduated with my degree few years back, I realized that I emphasized too much on hand drawings. All my past design works were manually produced and were only slightly edited by Photoshop. That’s all. Not using any CAD softwares at all. I started to feel regret knowing that I’m sucks in computer drawings and that’s a must-have skill when you are out to work. Fortunately, after these few years of working, I am able to improve quite significantly on my AutoCad skill. Well, still not very pro yet. On the other hand, I’m still at beginner level to the 3D modelling softwares like Google Sketch-Up and rendering softwares. I guess it shall be the time for me to work on these skills which are very important in architectural profession.



Hopefully, I can find a balance soon, where I can be very good in both hand and computer drawings. But right now, my stance is that both hand and computer drawings are equally important and both can actually co-exist to bring out the best of design ideas. You can follow my advice which is to focus slightly more on manual drawings during your study years and then when you start work only then you can polish your computer skills. It’s because you will not be able to learn drawing manually once you are out to work. Once you are working, you have to deal with computer drawings everyday and that’s where you can learn and improve on computer drawing’s skill as much as you can. Computer drawings and renderings are cool, accurate, realistic and useful for construction. However, hand sketches are great too when you are at the design stage, when you have no computer while on project site to show out your design solutions, or when you are meeting client and they wanted to see things real quick. Sketch on spot for them and they will be impressed.

The reason I wrote this for my blog post is because that Archdaily is also posting an article on the similar topic recently. The article is here: It’s interesting to know that finally a famous architectural website is brought it up and I would love to be part of the debate, since I have my personal experience on this issue too.

(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)


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